Raising Happy, Healthy Weight-Wise Kids will help you guide kids toward a healthy body weight and a positive body image – from infancy through the turbulent teens. By tackling the good, bad and just plain ugly influences on children’s relationships with food, the bestselling authors of Never Say Diet! present a common-sense approach to healthy living that’s packed with solid information and down-to earth advice.
Excerpt: Food and Power StrugglesEating is one of the most intimate things we do. We take food into our bodies-thousands of pounds over a lifetime-and it becomes part of us. From birth to 18 years, your child will eat something like 33,000 meals and snacks. This chapter explores the reasons kids eat the way they do.
It’s easy to overlook the full significance of food. At times, it’s simply fuel-there when we need it, at home or at stops along the way. In our hurried lives, some of us eat not only on automatic pilot, but even on overdrive.
Food is much more than something that fills us up. As you feed your baby, comfort, love,gratification, and survival are forever intertwined. Food helps to forge a strong, enduring link between you and your child. The cozy snuggle as you feed your infant. The toddler’s look of wonder when you present the birthday cake. The call from a college student who misses your cooking. These are memories parents cherish. But life has its ups and downs. Your child may also invite himself to the neighbors’ house because they’re having packaged macaroni and cheese and you’re cooking fish. At times, he’ll stare into a well-stocked refrigerator and claim there’s nothing to eat. I’ve been there!
Food affects every aspect of your child’s life: his growth, development, behavior, intelligence, immune system, and sense of well-being. His eating experiences in early childhood may give rise to food and weight issues in adolescence. Chronic dieting, eating disorders, poor self-image, and “out of control” behavior can sometimes be traced right back to the cradle. But this book isn’t about blaming parents-or anyone else. It’s about understanding how problems develop, so they can be prevented or corrected. It’s also about celebrating the joy of “breaking bread” with the kids in your life.
Sharing the Power
Feeding children is an awesome responsibility, but it’s one we share with our kids. Surprised? Let me explain what I mean. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to provide healthy foods for your child. But deciding whether to eat-and how much-is your child’s responsibility, right from infancy. Staying clear on these separate roles is an essential part of raising a child with a healthy weight and positive body image. The idea of shared responsibility is one I’ll come back to again and again. Developed by child-nutrition guru Ellyn Satter, it’s a cornerstone of this book.
Well-meaning parents often attempt to take on both jobs: They not only provide the food, they try to get their kids to eat it, too! Parents who can’t cajole their kids to eat sometimes call me at their wits’ end. I tell them to stop coaxing. Nature’s blueprint calls for children to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re satisfied.
With practice, a new parent can learn to interpret an infant’s signals for hunger and satisfaction. Following the rule of shared responsibility also helps older babies and toddlers feel secure about eating. It lets you share the joy of discovery with a primary- grade child, and it teaches a budding preteen to trust his body. It prepares a full-fledged teenager to mesh his yearning for independence with good sense.
Sharing responsibility with your kids is good for you, too. You really don’t have to do it all! Pressuring yourself to make your child eat is both frustrating and futile. No one can make a child eat-at least not without a battle that spoils the meal. When you do your part and let your child do his, it’s a win-win situation.
Raising Happy, Healthy Weight-Wise Kids: Judy Toews, MSc, RDN and Nicole Parton. Copyright© 2000 by Judy Toews and Nicole Parton. Excerpted by permission of Key Porter Books Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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